Organizational Needs Assessment

As part of ongoing planning processes, organizations periodically conduct needs assessments to identify current or anticipated gaps in organizational performance. Findings from needs assessments are intended to inform top management and other organizational stakeholders (Boards, customers, stockholders) as they plan strategies for improving organizational performance and/or facilitating organizational growth.

The focus of needs assessments will vary and depend on the concerns of the organization. For example, needs assessments may address current and projected adequacy of facilities and equipment. Alternately, needs assessments may focus on employees and deal with identifying gaps (current or anticipated) in staff performance and their implications for employee selection, education, training, etc. However, customers are often the focus of needs assessments. Customer studies evaluate the organization's effectiveness in satisfying demands for current products and services and often also project demand for new products and services. As a result, customer studies also are a form of market research.

A project conducted for the Franklin County ADAMH Board is one recent example of a customer - focused needs assessment. DSS staff and consultants worked with faculty and graduate students from the The Ohio State University Fisher College (Anand Desai) and other local human service consultants to complete the assessment. Similarly, DSS staff collaborated with staff from The Artglo Company to conduct a facility-related needs assessment for Limited Brands.


Personnel Selection and Performance Appraisal

The issues of personnel selection and performance appraisal are important to all organizations. In order to be effective, organizations must employ unbiased and valid methods for hiring individuals who are likely to be successful performers. In addition, reliable and valid methods for evaluating job performance are needed in order to identify approaches for improving performance and for advancing careers.

DSS staff have worked with faculty and staff from The Ohio State University to develop selection and performance appraisal tools for companies such as American Electric Power (AEP) and the Civil Service Commission of the City of Columbus, Ohio. DSS staff and consultants also have developed assessment instruments to evaluate the performance of school personnel including superintendents of public school systems, treasurers and other top administrators, private school heads, and Boards. For example, a "Self Evaluation" instrument was developed for the Dublin Board of Education, Dublin City Schools. DSS also has developed performance assessment instruments based on job analyses information for small to medium size firms such as The Artglo Company, Columbus, Ohio.


Market Research

DSS staff and consultants have assisted in the design, development, analysis and final report writing for a variety of consumer research studies for private organizations with headquarters in Ohio. This research is grounded in the interdisciplinary literature related to consumer behavior which draws heavily from the social and industrial/organizational psychology literature.

Some examples of these projects include: a commercial pretest for the "Smooth and Easy" shelf liner product for the Rubbermaid Corporation, a product positioning study of the Country Hearth Inn concept for LK Motels, Mansfield, Ohio and: product packaging studies for the microware product line for the Anchor Hocking Corporation, Lancaster, Ohio. DSS also has conducted customer-based needs assessments for public sector organizations such at the Franklin County ADAMH Board.


Project Planning Consultation and Facilitation

Planning helps an organization to prepare for the future by making decisions and taking actions today. Planned change is a disciplined effort that shapes and guides what an organization or work unit does to deal with problems or opportunities that merit action.
If managed well, planned change facilitates communication among key people, accommodates diverse interests, provides a means for orderly decision making, and lays the groundwork for the successful implementation of a plan (paraphrased from Nutt, 1992, p. 4-5).

The scope of planning projects varies widely. Some projects address broad concerns that have implications for the organization as a whole (e.g., restructuring); others have narrower scopes that may involve work groups or units within the organization. DSS staff and consultants have worked with organizations on planning projects that are broad in scope (e.g., Cluster - based Planning, Dublin City Schools, Franklin County ADAMH Board) and also on planning project which address narrower problems (The Artglo Company, Limited Brands, Interact Behavioral Healthcare Organization, Youngstown Aftercare Corporation, Inc).


Group Process Facilitation

Groups of stakeholders are convened by organizations for a variety of specific reasons, all of which are likely to have implications for organizational action. For example, planning groups comprised of organizational stakeholders may be organized to "brainstorm" possible explanations for a performance gap or identify possible solutions after a problem has been defined. Groups of consumers may be identified to react to new product ideas or to express concerns about current products or services. The use of groups and group process techniques are important mechanisms for advancing organizational interests.

There are numerous techniques for facilitating the work of groups. Some of these approaches involve the direct face-to-face involvement of group members (e.g., focus groups, brainstorming groups) whereas other approaches can be carried out with remote involvement (e.g., Delphi approaches). The most appropriate group technique depends on the purpose and size of the group and the particular application.

DSS staff and consultants use a variety of techniques to facilitate group processes, for public organizations (e.g., Dublin City Schools; Franklin County ADAMH Board) and private companies (Anchor Hocking, Interact Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., and Synthesis, Inc.). Results are analyzed and summarized. Implications of findings and recommended action steps are suggested to client organizations

Group process techniques also are employed by members of the DSS team in the course of implementing research studies such as the Job Design Project, the Strategic Issue Diagnosis Study, and the Cluster-based Planning research.


Questionnaire Design and Analysis

Questionnaires can provide important benefits for organizations. They can be used to assess employee attitudes, diagnose existing or potential problems, enhance communication between different levels of an organization, and for many other purposes. For example questionnaires often are used in the conduct of market research to gather valued input from current or potential customers.

The benefits of questionnaires are likely to be realized only if they are properly designed, administered and analyzed. This requires knowledge about sampling methods, item construction, psychometrics, and data analysis techniques (quantitative and qualitative).

Staff and consultants of DSS, Inc. possess this expertise and have extensive experience designing, administering and analyzing surveys for a wide range of organizational and research applications. Virtually all of DSS' current and recent research efforts use survey methodologies (e.g., IDARP, Job Design, Strategic Issue Diagnosis, Risky Decision Making). Questionnaires have also been used by DSS in numerous consulting projects (e.g., Rubbermaid, Anchor Hocking).


Job Satisfaction

A positive relationship has consistently been found between job satisfaction and performance: Happy workers perform better. Although the strength of this relationship has varied across studies and overall, is moderate, there is a clear message that job satisfaction has important implications for organizational functioning. This is because job satisfaction also has been linked to costly organizational outcomes such as turnover and absenteeism. As a result, many organizations are concerned with the job satisfaction of employees.

DSS staff and consultants have knowledge of standardized tools for assessing satisfaction such as the Job Descriptive Index and the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire. However, we are acutely aware that satisfaction instruments must be tailored to the concerns of individual organizations. Standardized instruments augmented by tailored items have been used in the conduct of our Job Design Research, special studies (e.g., National Association of Case Managers), and consulting projects (e.g., Bridgeway, Inc.)


Seminars in I/O Psychology for Managers

DSS' core staff and consultants have extensive expertise and university teaching experience in I/O psychology and organizational behavior (see Our People). Special topic seminars can be designed to augment your organization's employee development program. We will tailor seminars to your organization's needs and present material in a way that builds on the existing expertise of your staff. Please contact DSS to discuss your organization's needs for special topic seminars (


Job Design for Maximizing Performance

Jobs can be designed with a variety of interests in mind. They can be designed to maximize efficiency of performance. They can be designed to minimize physical strain. They can be designed to maximize employee motivation. They can be designed with more than one interest in mind. Job design has implications for employee attitudes and performance and other important organizational outcomes such as turnover.

DSS' Job Design research is a recent example of our work related to designing jobs that benefit both the employee and the employer. In addition to developing and testing instruments, a software and training package is being developed that will facilitate the conduct of job design and employee satisfaction assessments by organization.



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